Having shed the initial reluctance to explore other display size options apart from the standard 9.7 inch iPad, Apple is now believed to be toying with the idea of an iPad variant having a 12.9 inch sized display. Rumor mills have been quick to dub the device as the iPad Maxi, though expert opinion differs as to why Apple will come up with an iPad as big as 12.9 inch. Such a size also brings the iPad range to within the realm of the Macbook Air family of ultra portables, which starts off at 11 inch. So why would Apple want an iPad model that is bigger than the entry level Macbook range?
To begin with, an iPad as big as 12.9 inch belies the very notion of portability that tablet computers have come to be known for. Handling a device as big as that will be an issue, and so will be its build as well. It won’t be the usual tablet device that can be tucked away into a handbag, and it will require careful handling. The basic design of the device is something to consider as it has to be strong enough to be able to withstand the stress that a tablet is expected to be subjected to. The vast expanse of the display itself has to suitably supported to ensure it does not sink in along the middle, more so for a device that is primarily touch oriented. At that size, Apple will have to ensure the device does not end up being too heavy as well.
Further, given Apple’s penchant for pixel rich retina display, a similar sort of thing for the iPad Maxi could translate to a pixel count of 2712 x 2048 to make for a pixel density of 264 per inch. Perhaps the least we can expect here is a pixel density of 132 ppi, which means there should be at least 1366 x 1024 pixels lighting up the 12.9 inch display. Supporting that many pixels will again call for a far bigger battery than seen on the current 9.7 inch iPad; if not, Apple is ready to sacrifice some serious battery time that the iPad tablets have come to be known for, and a bigger battery will also mean a heavier device. Also, a 12.9 inch display for a tablet calls for suitable means of protecting the screen, which is another area that could add some more weight to the overall device.
Macrumor has even gone on to create some renderings of how an iPad with a 12.9 inch display might look, which does make for an interesting size comparison vis-à-vis the 9.7 inch regular iPad and the 7.9 inch iPad Mini. However, given the current rumors of Apple having adopted a similar design cue as the iPad Mini with thinner bezels along the sides, it doesn’t seem feasible for the bigger iPad’s necessary handheld operation. Instead, the contemporary thick bezel design seems more suitable to support the enlarged display and additional weight.
However, no matter how inconceivable the design of the bigger iPad might seem, a source as trusted as The Wall Street Journal has mentioned Apple having asked its suppliers to develop displays measuring 12.9 inch. Even before this, it was the Korean news site ETNews that first carried the news of Apple testing 12.9 inch iPad variants. What remains to be seen is if the particular variant with a 12.9 inch display will ever become a market reality. If it does, it will certainly cater to a niche market.